BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
DOUGIE SAMUEL was moonlighting as a media officer when Spartans last clashed with St Mirren in a Scottish Cup fixture which shaped the future of the Edinburgh amateurs.
Now he wants to hit the headlines again by leading the Lowland League side to a stunning victory over crisis club St Mirren.
Today’s third round fixture is a repeat of the 2006 meeting of the teams, when Spartans – in the old East of Scotland League at the time – took Gus McPherson’s Buddies to a replay before losing out in Paisely.
Ten years later he is charged with masterminding a victory in the rematch front he dugout.
He recalled: “I was the head coach of Edinburgh University when Spartans last played St Mirren, but I was actually working as the media officer for Spartans during that game.
“So I can recall it very well. Craig [Graham, Spartans chairman] invited me along to do a press role and I was heavily involved behind the scenes that day.
“I can remember the game at City Park like it was yesterday – it may have been 0-0, but there was a great opportunity for Jonny Seeley right at the end to beat them.
“That game against St Mirren is rightly part of Spartans folklore. It helped to create the seed capital that helped us to move forward with this project and everything we have built at here. The ripple effect of that will be felt for generations to come.
“We have a fantastic new home at Ainslie Park, a great charitable arm and are a big part of the community. It shouldn’t be underestimated how important the St Mirren tie was in all of that.”
Spartans enjoyed an even more memorable Scottish Cup outing against St Mirren’s Renfrewshire rivals, Morton, in 2014 when they dumped Jim Duffy’s side out of the competition at the fourth round stage.
Samuel recalls the “perfect storm” that lead to the giant-killing and, despite the Buddies’ woes, he knows similar serendipity will be required to overcome the Championship side today.
He added: “We have been lucky enough to have a decent record against league teams over the last 10 years, but this will be a huge task. We are up against a team that is full-time and has some very experienced, talented players.
“When we beat Morton, that was the first time Spartans had EVER beaten an full-time team. That says a lot about the challenge that faces us.
“We would love to repeat that result against Morton, but on that day it was like a perfect storm. We played to our very best and a lot of things went our way.”